IEA calls on oil producers to calm down markets

April 23, 2011 - 0:0
PARIS (Reuters) - The International Energy Agency called on oil producing nations to reassure the market after unrest in the Middle East and worries about supply disruptions in the region pushed crude prices to near 32-month highs. ""There is a need from oil producers to give messages to calm down markets,"" IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference. ""I would be very happy to hear producing countries say that current prices are too high, and really damaging the economy of consuming countries."" He said oil prices were particularly impacting the poorest nations in the world. ""For Africa, if prices remain above $100 a barrel, 5.3 percent of its GDP will be needed to cover the oil import bill,"" Birol said comparing that figure to 2 percent a decade ago. On Thursday, oil prices reversed gains after a smaller-than-expected decline in U.S. jobless claims dampened hopes for economic growth in the world's biggest oil consumer, but oil remained within a few dollars of 2-1/2 year highs. ICE Brent crude futures for June LCOc1 fell half a dollar or 0.4 percent to $123.31 a barrel by 1535 GMT after earlier rising nearly $1. The U.S. oil benchmark CLc1 was flat at $111.40. On Wednesday, IEA Executive Director Nobuo Tanaka said high oil prices had hurt demand in top consumers China and the United States, and that OPEC needed to be prepared to raise output around June to stem further price rises. Investors and speculators would need to heed the growing chorus of warnings and ""not repeat the same mistake made in 2008"", when the price of crude was driven to over $147 a barrel, Tanaka said.